Paul R. Lehman, Mayor fails to see the hypocrisy and bigotry in his banning of Nike products

September 23, 2018 at 2:57 am | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, Donald Trump, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, interpretations, justice, language, minority, NFL, political power, politicians, Prejudice, race, respect, skin color, social conditioning, The Huffington Post | Leave a comment
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The headlines read “Mayor Bans City’s Recreation Facilities From Buying Nike Products” and immediately informed the public that he, E. Ben Zahn, was angry about the move by Nike to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their new advertising campaign. In addition to showing the public his anger, he also showed his ignorance of the Kaepernick story, his arrogance to follow his ignorance with his order, and his bigotry towards Kaepernick whether he admits it or not.

Because Zahn chose to ignore the facts surrounding the Kaepernick protest and decided to interpret it as an insult, disrespecting the national anthem and the American flag, his ignorance and anger led him to his actions. While he may certainly ban any purchases of Nike products as mayor, he cannot forbid people from wearing or using Nike products nor does he make mention of any penalty or consequence for anyone ignoring the ban. Being mayor does not give him the right to ignore the Constitutional rights of each citizen. He might want the citizens of his city to follow his biased and ignorant thoughts and actions, but they are in no way obliged to do so simply because he is mayor. His ignorance is further demonstrated by his focusing on a brand name to protest against, a company that surely took into account the market risk involved in putting Kaepernick’s face on their advertisement. According to recent HuffPost news reports, Nike sales have increased since the move to have Kaepernick featured despite President Trump’s Twitter and claim that it was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”

One wonders just who Zahn thinks he is punishing with his band other than the people who work for his city and enjoy using Nike’s products. Because he is upset with Nike he wanted to show his public the power he has as mayor to express his dislike of Nike, and so he issued a ban. His show of arrogance was not accompanied by an explanation of just why the ban was instituted. His statement read: “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation facility.”Zahn has every right to disagree with Nike’s choice and every right to be angry as an individual, but to extend his personal anger to the city and punishing the children and adult citizens that use the recreation facility is certainly a display of arrogance.

Zahn added to his ignorance and confusion when he stated that “I applaud Nike’s message of inclusion and encouragement for everyone to be their best and dream big, but I also recognize that Nike, in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.” Because of his ignorance, Zahn does not see the irony of his actions; the ban is a form of protest that emanates from a politician, the mayor. He, apparently, believes that he is doing a public good by protesting and banning the purchase of Nike products. He is, in effect, doing the same thing for which he accuses Kaepernick of doing—exercising his constitutional right to peaceful protest. However, in his case, Zahn see what he is doing as patriotic and what Kaepernick did as unpatriotic. His feelings are, evidently, strong and sincere for him to issue a ban on all purchases of Nike products by his city. One wonders about the effects of his ban relative to what he views as the problem he wishes to address.

As a seemingly European American, Zahn probably grew up in a social environment that viewed people of color as inferior to those of European ancestry. That perspective was part of the normal everyday experience and not something that stood out as being strange and unusual. The values and standards of his community are what informed his perception and they were/are considered correct and appropriate to him. The historical actions of the government helped to foster the perception of Anglo superiority over that of people of color. So, Zahn sees nothing amiss in his banning based on his dislike of Nike’s advertisement featuring Kaepernick.

Zahn seems to be under the impression that politics are different and distinct from everyday life; however, he never defines or states clearly what he means by politics. One of the many definitions of “Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning “affairs of the cities”) is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.” Therefore, practically everything that has to do with influence and control, physical or mental of a human community is political. In essence, Zahn accused Nike of trying to promote and sell a political message while he bans a city to not purchase Nike products, but does not see the close if not identical relationship involved in both situations. Because of Zhan’s social conditioning, he does not see the hypocrisy in his actions but protests the actions of Nike.

The real fact of Zhan’s protest is his ethnic bigotry and anger because the face of Nike’s advertisement happens to be a man of color whose protest Zahn does not understand or like. In his own words Zahn said that he approves of the message Nike is promoting, so it has to be the face that is used for the promotion that troubles him. Therefore, his feeling of superiority, power, and prestige told him that it was okay to ban the purchase of any and all Nike products from all the Kenner City recreational facilities. The saying “Ways and actions speak louder than words, “serve to underscore and explain the anger and bigotry Zahn communicates through his decision to issue a ban.

Unfortunately, Zahn does not understand the message that Nike is promoting to the general public that supports the constitutional right of all Americans to practice peaceful protest against something in society that is inconsistent with our concept of democracy. How sad.

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Paul R. Lehman, The Starbucks incident involving the arrest of two African American men shows the need for implicit education as well as training.

April 16, 2018 at 11:43 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, law enforcement agencies, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 3 Comments
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The recent arrest of two African American males at a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia by police for no apparent reason has generated a plethora of questions regarding cultural bias and social justice. The situations, from media reports, involved two African American men who went to this Starbucks store to meet with someone. They apparently arrived before the party with whom they were to meet and so decided to sit and wait for their party. They asked to use the bathroom but were told by the employees that they could not use it because they had not purchased anything. At some point afterward they were asked by the employees to leave, but they refused.

 

The reports noted that a statement from the Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed: “that on Thursday afternoon at 4:40 p.m., Philadelphia police received a 911 call from the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets alleging disturbance and trespassing.” The two men were arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail where they were placed in a holding cage for approximately eight hours, then released. No charges were made against them. A number of the people in the store at the time made known to the officers that the men were doing nothing wrong.

 

Fortunately, the men were unarmed and cooperated with the police or the outcome of the incident could have been tragic owning to the experiences of other men of color interacting with police officers. However, the primary question is why were they arrested, cuffed, and taken to jail in the first place? We cannot be certain of the specific reasons, but we can certainly address some possibilities that led to the incident. One reason has to do with implicit cultural bias. The person who called 911 and informed the police that the two men were creating a disturbance and trespassing did so because of the perception and judgment of the men. Perhaps men of color did not frequent that particular Starbucks, so their presence was unusual for the caller to experience. So their presence in the store created in her a sense of fear.

 

After the incident, both Philadelphia’s mayor and the police Commissioner made statements relative to their concerns about the incident. The Commissioner commented that his officers did nothing wrong; they simply followed orders requested by Starbucks. He also underscored the point that all his commanders received implicit bias training. He also stated that all the new recruits visit both the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The visits to these museums are supposed to show the recruits ethnic atrocities committed by policing

 

The mayor commented that seeing the headlines of the Starbucks incident in the headlines

was disheartening to him and the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”He also suggested that Starbucks’ apology was not enough to satisfy his concerns about the incident and that he would look into whether the employees at Starbucks’ should receive more implicit bias training.

 

The one key phrase used by both the Commissioner and the Mayor was “implicit bias training.”To be sure, training is necessary when developing a skill is important, but what is more important and should come before the training is education. Both training and education are parts of the learning experience. However, most of the research over the last decade and longer indicate that people in general only have conscious access to 5 percent of our brains and that much of our brain’s work happens on the unconscious level. In other words, when implicit bias occurs, that does not mean that people are hiding their ethnic and cultural biases; in essence, they do not know they have these biases.

 

Training helps to develop skills while education helps one to understand the skills and how they should be implemented. Training officers, as well as people in general, might help them do their job in some aspect of human relations, but education is needed for them to understand the presence of implicit cultural biases in their perceptions of people. So, the reference to officers and employees receiving more implicit training seems to be counterproductive if the objective is for them to be cognizant of what they are doing when they are doing it.

 

An example of implicit bias might serve to underscore the point of training and education relative to implicit bias training. An incident occurred a year or so ago where an inmate form a medical facility had left the grounds and was sitting in the middle of the street playing with some object. Someone called 911 and the police arrived. When the attendant who was also in the street talking to the inmate saw the police, he lies on his back and put both hands in the air to show he was not armed or represented a threat to the officers. When an officer approached him with his gun drawn, the attended told him that he worked at the facility and was presently trying to talk the inmate back onto the facility grounds. The European American officer shot the African American attendant in the leg. When the attendant asked the officer why he shot him since he had no weapon and represented to threat to him, the officer answered, “I don’t know.”We might assume that the officer was not thinking but simply reacted to the bias common among European American law officers—a fear of African American males.

 

While we appreciate and applaud the efforts of the Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner relative to the need for implicit bias training, what we feel is more important in addition to the training is implicit bias education. All human beings have biases and prejudices, implicit as well as explicit, but the implicit ones are often unknown to them. With education, they have the opportunity to learn why the training is so important for them and all concerned. First, a bias must be discovered, then embraced, and overcome before success can be achieved. Training to overcome an unperceived bias is wasted time and effort. The officers who viewed the ethnic museums must learn that the experience was not entertainment, but lessons that underscore the fact that were are all implicated in the actions of all human beings.

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